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Think About It... Radical Acceptance doesn't mean you approve; it doesn't mean you're happy about something; it doesn't mean you won't work to change the situation or your response to it, but it does mean that you acknowledge reality as it is--with all its sadness, humor, irony, and gifts--at a particular point in time. ~ Freda B. Friedman, Ph.D., LCSW, Surviving a Borderline Parent
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Author Topic: BPD and Hypochondria  (Read 6664 times)
formerly "SusanArlene"
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« on: January 04, 2011, 07:36:47 PM »

I was wondering if anyone had any experience linking BPD and hypochondria?  I am more curious than anything.  I know of some situations where this seems to be the case. The person seems to think that any small ailment is a life-threatening illness and goes to the extreme to prove that it is life-threatening, often changing doctors when he/she doesn't like the "real" diagnosis, i.e., hypochondria.  This person also thrives on all the attention he/she gets with this so-called "illness."

So I was curious if this is considered a trait of BPD? 

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« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2011, 08:06:26 PM »

I'm not sure if this exactly qualifies, but here goes:  My BPD mom allegedly had rheumatic fever when she was a child. She claims that she was bedridden for an entire year and that her mom had to teach her how to walk again. This has never been verified or denied by any other family member, although I would have thought someone would have brought it up in the past 50 years, but let's say it's true to whatever extent. Anyway, she has used her illness as an excuse for many things over the years, such as why she couldn't learn to drive until she was 40+ because, to paraphrase, she never learned to ride a bike because she was too sick and therefore she could not possible understand the concept of steering. Also, her left hand didn't work as well as her right hand (otherwise known as being right-handed to the rest of us) so she was bad at sports or couldn't knit or stuff like that.

When I was a child, I constantly heard about the "hole in the valve of my heart" and how her mother never told her she was too weak to have any children so she risked her life having me and I should be very grateful. Also, whenever I did anything to displease her, she would claim that since I knew what an unwell woman she was and how she had that damn hole in her heart, I was trying to kill her with my insubordination. (Nothing like making your 5 year old responsible for whether you live or die.) Keep in mind that she was in her 20s and perfectly healthy at this time. She constantly made these totally gross, very forced hocking-up-phlegm noises and always held a handkerchief that she would dramatically flourish and fake cough into. Then she would take to her bed and make more of the fake cough noises in order to make me feel bad. She'd do this to my dad also.  Please note that she was never ill enough to warrant any medical care nor ever went to a doctor about these terrible, debilitating and life threatening symptoms.  grin

She would also threatened that her life would be considerably shortened because of her tragic illness, but she's over 70 and still alive and kicking, having never been to the hospital or had any prolonged illness in the past half century.
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« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2011, 09:30:31 PM »

My mother is a die-hard hypochondriac. Everything is catastrophic and she goes to the doctor more than anyone I know. They never find anything. They just continue to give her pills.

I think she believes the only positive attention she will get is if she's sick. She's always been like this.
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« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2011, 06:10:45 AM »

For my mother, it's part of being a hermit, I think: they are always looking for something to do with all that fear.

We were constantly at the doctor's office for some reason or another.  (And once I figured out that maligning would result in a trip to the pediatrician and would get me out of school, I really took advantage of it!  )

My mother has a minor heart defect that basically a lot of people have and doesn't really cause problems.  I remember one time she pulled me out of school to have an ultrasound just to make sure there was nothing wrong with my heart.  A perfectly healthy 10-ish year old will most certainly die tomorrow if we don't just make sure!  ?  Oh, and there's a piece missing from her spine, or something.  So I had to go to the doctor for that one, too.  Every little thing that "might" have been wrong with me--like a spot of extra calcium on an x-ray of my leg--and she was ready to start planning my funeral.

My husband is a doctor.  We are acquainted with a family who started seeing him, and I'm reasonably certain the mom has BPD.  He says she is constantly bringing her children into the clinic when there's nothing wrong with them.   

Illness gets people a lot of sympathy and attention.  Besides the fear factor, I think this is a major part of why people like my mother spend their lives at the doctor's office. 


“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.”--Lao Tzu

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« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2011, 06:34:14 AM »

I think she believes the only positive attention she will get is if she's sick. She's always been like this.

My BPDm is also this way.  I also believe that it's attention-seeking behavior that is typical of BPD.  It reminded me of that weather lady who recently claimed that she was attacked and raped while jogging in a park, later confessing that she made it all up because she wanted attention from someone.  I gasped when I saw it thinking that either she is BPD or her mother is www.nypost.com/p/news/local/manhattan/cold_front_at_channel_SMMCMc3cRRH9FclY0wfWBP

I do not believe that BPDm actually believes that she is sick.  She uses it to manipulate people.  When she is not getting her way or when something important is happening for someone else (i.e. weddings, baby showers, etc.) she will suddenly "fall ill" and it will be yet another medical mystery.  And it always, always could be cancer.  My BPDm has never had cancer, but she will still, to this day have the cojones to "hint" that she did to people around her so they are left with the feeling of being unable to confirm or deny her half-claim.  It's crazy.

When I was a child, she was accused by my pediatrician of having munchausen by proxy.  I went through a phase of not eating and I can admit today that it was because I "felt bad."  I was only 10-11 years old, I was the scapegoat child and one day, I stopped feeling like eating.  In fact, when food was put in front of me, I'd immediately feel a lump form in my throat and I wanted to cry.  BPDm refused to believe that what I needed was a child psychologist, so she kept bringing me to the pediatrician, having my blood drawn, screaming at me daily about how hard it was for her that I was this way and talking on the phone all day long with her histrionic family members to get sympathy for her troubles.  When the pedi thought she was making me sick and thought I was suffering from "failure to thrive," my BPDm immediately changed doctors.  You don't have to use actual poison to make your kid sick.

But yes, among the usual illness claims (of which her close family members have begun to ignore now), she also claims a lot of "oddities" about her body in general. 

"My hearing isn't good in one ear because I always had ear infections as a child and that's why I also mess up words sometimes." <--after someone asked, "did you really meanhit_" when she messed up a word.

"I have a gluten allergy and that's why the skin around my nose is always red." <--she's bulemic, oh, and she goes "on" and "off" of her gluten-free diet frequently.  rolleyes

And of course, there is always a medical reason why she gained weight (and it's not because she has a binging disorder!).  So, I can usually see right through her claims because they are either defensive against being seen as anything less than perfect, they are meant to draw others into her denial of a life-long eating disorder, or they are manipulative so people feel guilty and give her the attention and/or control that she wants.
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« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2011, 07:08:47 AM »

The excuses kind of make me snicker...but they're sad.

My mom once told me she couldn't quit smoking because her body had a nicotine dependency that her doctor told her she shouldn't deprive her body of.

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« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2011, 07:36:54 AM »

Also, her left hand didn't work as well as her right hand (otherwise known as being right-handed to the rest of us) so she was bad at sports or couldn't knit or stuff like that.

lol  Thanks, Chally-- I needed a laugh this morning.
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« Reply #7 on: January 05, 2011, 07:47:06 AM »

My mom, like a lot of yours, varied between extremes, especially with us kids. She would go on and on, sick, and finally get to the doctor to find out that bronchitis had turned to pneumonia. Other times, and it's always completely obvious, if she feels like people aren't paying her enough attention, she'll do these fake, deep coughs and pretend she's lost her voice. With me (it was never as bad with my brother), she'd send me to school throwing up and then act like she knew nothing when she was called to pick me up. Once she figured out they were going to call, she took the phone off the hook and I'd sit at school for hours. She used to babysit, and she'd send us outside for hours in the 90+ degree heat with nothing to drink and wouldn't allow us back inside...once I fell asleep on the back porch and she came out raging at me for not playing with my brother (the bigger kids used to pick on him) and, come to find out, I had a fever of 104...I had the flu. I also had a few surgeries (appendectomy and a couple due to reproductive issues) and after my appendix was out, she wanted to know how soon I could roller skate (the guy she liked at the time took his kids there all the time) and after the others, because I was older, she'd go out of town and leave me home with a list of chores to be done even though I wasn't supposed to lift anything.

She now has an autoimmune disease. Instead of treating it properly and adjusting her lifestyle accordingly, she continues to drink, smoke, and go to the tanning bed (her disease affects the skin, liver, and lungs) and then complains that it won't go into remission. She likes being able to say that her disease is "killing her". Ugh.
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« Reply #8 on: January 05, 2011, 08:40:42 AM »

Oh man, this thread brings back memories!

Other times, and it's always completely obvious, if she feels like people aren't paying her enough attention, she'll do these fake, deep coughs and pretend she's lost her voice.

I remember the fake "I've lost my voice"!  My mom did that too.  Wow. 

She likes being able to say that her disease is "killing her". Ugh.

YES, I have heard these exact words before.  My mom has a minor heart condition brought on by overeating, a terrible diet, and sedentary lifestyle, and when she had a heart attack she took it as the confirmation that our family was killing her, and she left in the middle of the night not long after. 

16 years later, she's still not dead.  I guess that's because she took the initiative and ditched us.   rolleyes 
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« Reply #9 on: January 05, 2011, 08:46:03 AM »

Most recently my mother had an unexplained cough for a few months.

She had tons of tests that found nothing, meanwhile she'd either get into coughing fits everywhere we went, or whine about not being able to go anywhere because she'd just cough and bother people. 

She finally found out it was acid reflux...I think.   lol

Said it was from stress from the fall out of my father cheating on her.  Okay, so that is probably true, but, what I found annoying is how she always used it to remind him of what he did to her, even after she had supposedly forgiven him.  And she would say also that it started after she visited my enSis, who smokes, and this is why she should quit because mother can never enjoy visiting with her, even if she smokes outside b/c it makes her cough anyway. 

Oh, I forgot out the case of shingles from stress, that she emailed me about some time over this last year of vLC.

I realize these are all true things, probably, but it's HOW she handles them, and the way she speaks about them (read: blames others) that is bothersome.  I'm sure she blamed me for the shingles.


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